Should Michigan Cities Be Allowed to Ban Pit Bulls?

Probably not

The Legislature is considering a bill that would prohibit local governments from banning people from owning pit bulls. Senate Bill 239, sponsored by Sen. Dave Robertson, R-Grand Blanc Township, has passed the Senate and is being considered in the House.

According to the Detroit Free Press, 26 towns have enacted ordinances that restrict pit bulls and 14 outright ban them and other dog breeds.

It’s true that pit bulls harm more people than any other type of dog. According to one report, they have killed a total of 233 people since 1982. That makes them about 40 percent more likely to kill than Rottweilers — though, when the number of deaths is adjusted to reflect the number of each breed, huskies are actually far more dangerous. Other studies have a slightly higher estimate, with approximately 19 people per year dying because of dogs. 

But the question is whether pit bulls are dangerous enough that governments should ban them. While the breed often makes the news, the number of injuries and deaths they cause is still very small.

Evidence suggests that pit bulls are not more inherently dangerous than some other types of dogs. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the federal Centers for Disease Control are both opposed to breed-specific legislation because studies show them to be ineffective and harmful. Other research suggests that while pit bulls are aggressive, other breeds are even more hostile. In other words, pit bulls are only more dangerous because they are bred that way by their owners, meaning local bans just encourage people to train other types of dogs to be violent.

Many cities have ordinances that restrict residents from having any dog that is dangerous or out of their control. This policy is much better than a specific ban on pit bulls or other breeds.